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I’m Still Here

Year: 2010
Production Co: They Are Going To Kill Us Productions
Director: Casey Affleck
Producer: Casey Affleck/Joaquin Phoenix
Writer: Casey Affleck/Joaquin Phoenix
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Casey Affleck, Ben Stiller, Jack Nicholson, Natalie Portman, Deanny De Vito, Billy Crystal, Danny Glover, Bruce Willis, Robin Wright
Spoiler
Spoiler!

There are two interesting things about the existence of this film despite the content. The first is that audiences stayed away in droves, proving my hypothesis that a high media profile doesn't guarantee paying punters (the reason behind the relative failures of both Grindhouse and Snakes on a Plane – see my hypothesis here). So despite Phoenix's notorious and very visible Letterman appearance, it didn't translate to crowds who paid to see how his 'downfall' played out.

The second is that Phoneix and co-conspirator/director Casey Affleck blew their wads a little early, coming clean as soon as the movie came out that the whole thing had been a performance art piece from day one. Maybe the pressure had been too much or someone on the inside – there must have been at least few – leaked it.

You might not know it's all fake, and while I'm sorry to burst your bubble if you didn't, you must also be one of those people who doesn't know Vader turns out to be Luke's father. But it's still very entertaining to watch.

Phoenix was actually very brave, staying solidly in character in the public eye for a long time where most actors only do so from the safety of their trailers and the set, even to the extent of jumping off a Miami stage to start a fight with some random guy in the audience of his rap concert.

It ironically looks like he was having great fun, making enemies of everyone from Ben Stiller (who comes to visit him about a part in Greenberg) to his longtime friend and PA Antony Langdon, whom he mistreats so badly the latter sneaks into Phoenix's room late one night to defecate on his head.

It's a sharp comment on celebrity, the damage it can visit upon human frailty and the fallout. Maybe Affleck and Phoneix fell victim to a conspiracy to bury their movie because it shone a light behind the scenes that was a bit too bright, but two things are certain. First, it's fabulously entertaining to watch and even though you expect tragedy it's funny as well. Second, it only further confirms and cements the talent we saw in Two Lovers, We Own the Night and U Turn.

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